A More Perfect Union
George Washington and the Making of the Constitution
By 1787, the union between the states was unraveling. To save the young nation, delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia and, with George Washington presiding, created a new form of government.
If James Madison was the Constitution’s chief architect, as some textbooks say, then Washington was its general contractor in that he, more than anyone, got the work done.
Rising above conflicts between individual states, Washington created an atmosphere that allowed convention members to reach the compromises necessary to create a bold, new government.
The new nation was hanging on by a thread with a weak Articles of Confederation and growing conflicts between the states. Without resolution on these issues the new nation would certainly be in peril.
- George Washington, 1786
As Washington sat above this group, observing the chaos, there were five other players that had key roles in the creation of the Constitution. Each of these men brought specific ideas about the role of government in the new nation.
After the Revolutionary War ended, George Washington was finally able to resume the life he had missed, but a trip west that began as a business venture would give birth to an event that changed American history.
One of Mount Vernon's prized possessions is President George Washington's own copy of The Acts of Congress, which includes the U.S. Constitution and notes in his hand.
How well do you know the Constitution?
On the last day of the Constitutional Convention, Washington purchased a copy of a literary classic that remains in Mount Vernon's collections to this day.